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Feedback and complaints

Children’s social care complaints procedure

This is an overview of the statutory complaints procedure. You can get more detailed information about this by talking to a member of the Customer Relations Team.

Sometimes it is difficult to complain about a service. If you are under 18 you have the right to have someone help you with your complaint – this person is called an advocate. Take a look at the NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) website to find out more about what an advocate is and how advocacy can help you to make sure your views are heard.

If you would like an advocate to help you at any stage please let us know.

To make a complaint about a service you are receiving:

What happens when I complain?

The statutory complaints procedure consists of three stages. When we receive your complaint, we will write to you within three working days to confirm that we’ve received it and let you know if we can look into it further. Your complaint will initially be dealt with under Stage 1 of the complaints procedure.

Stage 1
This stage is called local resolution. The manager of the service you are complaining about will investigate your complaint and will write to tell you what they have found. They will usually write to you within 10 working days of receiving your complaint, however, it may take up to 20 working days if your complaint is very complex.

If you are not happy with the response, you can talk to the manager who wrote the letter. If you don’t want to do this you should contact the Customer Relations Manager and ask for your complaint to go to Stage 2 of the complaints procedure. You should do this within 20 working days from the date you received your Stage 1 response. You will need to explain why you are still unhappy and what you would like to happen to put things right.

Stage 2
We will tell you that we have received your request to move your complaint to Stage 2 and explain how we will deal with it.

An independent investigating officer will be appointed to investigate your complaint, and an independent person will be appointed to ensure that the investigation process is open, transparent and fair. The investigating officer will write a report with their findings and recommendations. A social care senior manager will consider the report and then write to you with their decision.

The response should be sent to you within 25 working days. This can be extended to 65 working days for complex complaints which need a longer investigation.

If you are still unhappy when you have received the response, you can request to go to Stage 3 of the process (Review Panel Hearing). You must make your request for a Review Panel Hearing to the Customer Relations Manager, and you must explain what you are unhappy about and what you expect from the Review. You must make your request within 20 working days of receiving the response letter from Stage 2. If you do not do these things, we may not be able to take forward your Stage 3 request.

Find more detailed information about the stage 2 process here

Stage 3 – Review Panel Hearing
In Stage 3 a panel of three independent people look at whether your complaint was dealt with adequately at Stage 2. None of the people will have been connected with your complaint or know anything about the investigation so far.

The Review Panel Hearing will be arranged and held within 30 working days of the date when your request was received by the Social Care Customer Relations Manager. You may attend the hearing to present your case, but you don’t have to. If you decide to attend, you can be accompanied by another person who can speak for you.

The recommendations and notes of the Review Panel will be sent to the social care Strategic Director within five working days of the end of the hearing, and you will be sent a copy at the same time.

The Strategic Director will consider their decision and will write to you within 15 working days of receiving the notes and recommendations of the panel.

Our complaints process is governed by The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006.

Find more detailed information about the stage 3 review panel hearings here

What if I am still not happy?

If you are still unhappy or feel your complaint has not been properly dealt with through our statutory complaints procedure, you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. You can do this at any stage in the procedure.

We understand and respect that some people may need advice and support from an independent advocate to make their complaint, to pursue it, to understand the process and to cope with the outcome. We acknowledge that this is particularly important for people who are vulnerable or find it difficult to make their views heard, or for complainants whose first language is not English and those with communication difficulties. If you need this information in a different format or language contact us on 0800 212 783.